Chances - Top 15% at T25 Forum

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Chances - Top 15% at T25

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Nov 24, 2021 9:14 pm

Interested in district clerkships in the same state as my law school.

School: T25
Class rank: Top 15%
Summers: 1L summer with a federal judge in the same state, 2L summer with a biglaw litigation SA in the state
Extracurriculars: Exec board of moot court (some awards), position on a secondary journal, RA, other less prestigious law school involvement
Recs: Strong recs from profs with connections in the state

namefromplace

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Re: Chances - Top 15% at T25

Post by namefromplace » Wed Nov 24, 2021 9:36 pm

This depends a lot on the state you're in. But even if you go to school in a marginally less competitive state--let's say you go to ASU--you are still going to be competing with people from higher-ranked schools and people higher ranked than you from your school. You're a plausible candidate, but you'd need either some idiosyncratic match with your judge (i.e. you have pre-law work experience the judge likes) or a strong connection with a recommender. Did your externship go well? Would that judge feel comfortable recommending you to other judges in the state? Meet with your best-connected recommender and make a plan.

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Re: Chances - Top 15% at T25

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Nov 25, 2021 12:52 am

namefromplace wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 9:36 pm
This depends a lot on the state you're in. But even if you go to school in a marginally less competitive state--let's say you go to ASU--you are still going to be competing with people from higher-ranked schools and people higher ranked than you from your school. You're a plausible candidate, but you'd need either some idiosyncratic match with your judge (i.e. you have pre-law work experience the judge likes) or a strong connection with a recommender. Did your externship go well? Would that judge feel comfortable recommending you to other judges in the state? Meet with your best-connected recommender and make a plan.
Thanks for this, it's helpful. For the sake of anonymity, I don't want to say my state on here, but it's an insular state in the south. Ties are as strong as possible. I have work experience, but it's nothing shiny--just worked a lot.

The externship went well, and the judge agreed to be a reference for me (she doesn't write letters). Should I specifically ask this judge if she's willing to make calls on my behalf once my applications go out, or is that too forward?

I'll definitely reach out to my recommenders to work on a plan. Is there anything else I can do to increase my competitiveness?

namefromplace

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Re: Chances - Top 15% at T25

Post by namefromplace » Thu Nov 25, 2021 2:39 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 12:52 am
namefromplace wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 9:36 pm
This depends a lot on the state you're in. But even if you go to school in a marginally less competitive state--let's say you go to ASU--you are still going to be competing with people from higher-ranked schools and people higher ranked than you from your school. You're a plausible candidate, but you'd need either some idiosyncratic match with your judge (i.e. you have pre-law work experience the judge likes) or a strong connection with a recommender. Did your externship go well? Would that judge feel comfortable recommending you to other judges in the state? Meet with your best-connected recommender and make a plan.
Thanks for this, it's helpful. For the sake of anonymity, I don't want to say my state on here, but it's an insular state in the south. Ties are as strong as possible. I have work experience, but it's nothing shiny--just worked a lot.

The externship went well, and the judge agreed to be a reference for me (she doesn't write letters). Should I specifically ask this judge if she's willing to make calls on my behalf once my applications go out, or is that too forward?

I'll definitely reach out to my recommenders to work on a plan. Is there anything else I can do to increase my competitiveness?
I can't give much advice on how to approach the judge you externed for--you have a much better sense of what she and you would be comfortable with. But I can think of two less direct methods of approaching her. First, you could reach out to discuss clerking in general. Tell her you're starting to apply and ask her what advice she would have in going about the process. If she's willing to go to bat for you, she would likely take this as an opportunity to mention judges she knows who she would be comfortable recommending you to. The other option is, if one of your professors knows the judge you externed for, seeing if that professor would be willing to reach out to that judge on your behalf and having them make the call. The showing of institutional support and vote of confidence from a professor the judge trusts could make her feel more comfortable in helping you.

As for other pieces of advice, I would also recommend trying your best to tailor your cover letters to each judge in particular. This can be a pain if you're mass mailing, but your pool here is small enough that you can actually do meaningful research on each judge to which you apply. Reach out to former clerks, ask them about their experiences, and then see if they would be alright with you mentioning them in your cover letter. A cover letter that says "After having spoken with your former clerk X, I am particularly interested in your chambers because of Y" is much more likely to get you out of the pile than something completely boilerplate. The letter doesn't have to be long or artful, but anything you can put in there that says you are interested in clerking for that judge rather than the abstract contract of clerking makes you more likely to be pulled from the pile.

Also, I'm sure you've heard this before, but make sure your writing sample is great. If possible, try to figure out what kind of writing sample the judges you're applying for like. Some judges like academic pieces, others like practical pieces. Some want something that no one else has edited, others don't seem to care. But after you've been pulled from the pile of applicants, in many chambers your writing sample will be the main determinate of whether you actually get interviewed. So make sure it's good.

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